The CPAP recall lawsuits against Philips have spawned a new group of related satellite lawsuits against SoClean, Inc. SoClean is a company that makes a product specifically used to sanitize the recalled CPAP devices.
Lawsuits have been filed against SoClean alleging that the company falsely marketed their product as “safe” and “healthy” for sanitizing CPAP machines and other breathing devices.
According to the lawsuits, SoClean’s product was unsafe because it emitted harmful levels of ozone gas, which exceeded the maximum safe limits set by the FDA.
February 2024: There is an ongoing legal dispute between Philips and SoClean. Each company makes allegations against the other regarding their CPAP machines and associated cleaning devices. Here’s a summary of the key points each side has lobbed against the other:
- Deceptive marketing: Philips claims SoClean falsely advertised its ozone cleaners as “safe” and “compatible” with Philips CPAP machines despite knowledge of potential issues.
- No FDA approval: Philips contends SoClean lacked necessary FDA clearance for its products, creating safety concerns.
- Foam degradation: Philips argues SoClean’s ozone cleaners caused degradation of sound abatement foam in their CPAP machines, contributing to the 2021 recall.
- Scapegoating: SoClean claims Philips unfairly blames their product for the CPAP recall, deflecting responsibility for their own faulty design and foam choice.
- Misleading statements: SoClean accuses Philips of making false and misleading statements about ozone cleaners to damage their business.
- Defective machines: SoClean argues Philips’ CPAP machines had inherent flaws, regardless of cleaning methods, leading to the recall.
January 2024: In June, we reported 41 SoClean lawsuits. How many now? 41.
June 2023: It has been 15 months since the SoClean CPAP cleaning device lawsuits were consolidated into a class action MDL under Judge Conti (the same judge presiding over the Philips CPAP recall MDL). As of May 15, 2023, there were 41 pending cases in the SoClean MDL, which is about the same number of cases pending at the start of the year. At its peak, the MDL had around 60 cases.
March 2023: The JPML consolidated the various class action lawsuits involving the SoClean CPAP cleaning device into a new SoClean MDL (MDL No. 3021). The plaintiffs were requesting that the MDL be established in the District of Kansas. Still, the JPML decided to assign it to the same judge that is currently handling the Philips CPAP MDL, Hon. Joy Flowers Conti of the Western District of Pennsylvania.
January 2023: The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is set to hear arguments later this month on whether to consolidate all pending lawsuits involving the SoClean CPAP cleaning machine into a new MDL. Currently, 11 SoClean CPAP lawsuits are pending, but each is a class action purporting to represent hundreds or thousands of potential plaintiffs. SoClean is not opposing consolidation and is requesting that the Eastern District of Louisiana be selected as the venue for the MDL.
SoClean CPAP Sanitizing Machine Lawsuits
The SoClean lawsuits have been filed in 7 states, including Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, Kansas, and Louisiana. These lawsuits come after manufacturer Philips recalled millions of its CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) breathing machines due to sound abatement foam that can degrade and release harmful chemicals. Earlier this month, a new Philips CPAP recall MDL was created in the Western District of Pennsylvania.
SoClean makes sanitizing machines that are specifically designed and marketed for use in cleaning CPAP sleep apnea devices. The company’s SoClean 3 machine is a 3-gallon plastic sanitizing canister similar to products used to sanitize baby bottles.
The SoClean, however, is geared specifically for cleaning the removable parts of CPAP machines. The user puts their CPAP device parts in the SoClean and presses a button. The SoClean then uses patented technology to sanitize the parts without water. SoClean markets its sanitize machine as the safest way to clean CPAP devices.
According to lawyers for the plaintiffs in the recent lawsuits against SoClean, however, the machine is anything but safe. They claim that the SoClean machine uses harmful levels of ozone gas in its cleaning process. The levels of ozone gas generated by the SoClean device exceed the maximum safe levels for ozone as set by the FDA.
An attorney representing several plaintiffs in the SoClean cases explained that “our suits are not false advertising lawsuits” they are “suits for causing medical problems to individuals, potential medical problems to individuals, and actually harming your existing CPAP machine.”
Other attorneys who have joined him in bringing these lawsuits against SoClean are admittedly hoping that others will follow suit and bring their own claims, thinking that “as time goes by, other firms will look at this.” In anticipation of more SoClean cases being filed, lawyers have filed a petition asking the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate the SoClean lawsuits into a new MDL in the U.S. District Court for Kansas. The motion to consolidate these lawsuits into a class action was granted, but it was sent to Pennsylvania to be handled by the CPAP MDL judge, who is already familiar with the issues in the litigation.
For its part, SoClean has been very dismissive of these recent lawsuits. In a public statement, a spokeswoman for SoClean described the cases as “nothing more than copycat filings … from a baseless lawsuit filed in 2019.” The SoClean spokeswoman asserted that these lawsuits “have no basis in fact, and are without legal merit.”
- The CPAP class action lawsuits and their settlement value
- Breaking down the CPAP lawsuit – what the core allegations are in this litigation
SoClean is Suing Philips for Making them a Scapegoat for CPAP Recall
Just last week, SoClean filed a lawsuit against Philips seeking $200 million in damages. The lawsuit claims that Philips wrongfully pointed the finger of blame at the SoClean machine to make it a “scapegoat” for the Philips CPAP recall.
SoClean’s lawsuit against Philips was filed in federal court in Massachusetts, and it claims that Philips blamed ozone-based cleaners like SoClean for causing the sound abatement foam in the Philips CPAP devices to degrade.
According to SoClean, these accusations were entirely false and simply an effort by Philips to avoid taking responsibility for the defective design of their products:
This is a case about a multinational corporation deflecting attention away from inexcusable design flaws, misleading the public, creating confusion, and causing hundreds of millions of dollars of damage in the process